Agency and Youth: Insights from the Brics

Friday, 20 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Tom DWYER, University of Campinas, Brazil
Over 40% of the world’s youth live in the BRICS countries (Brazil Russia, India, China and South Africa). The construction of BRICS as a viable political entity capable of influencing the future involves not only institution-building, but massive ‘sense-making’ efforts, by politicians, intellectuals, diplomats, journalists, etc. and this paper aims to draw some insights from youth agency as documented and theorized about by different scholars and at different periods.

The overdue publication of the ‘Handbook on the Sociology of Youth in BRICS countries’ (2017) permits sociologists to incorporate new insights into the sociology of youth. It helps modify the supposed “Universality” of some Western concepts, e.g. Erikson’s moratorium, school-to-work transition. Another contribution of the book is to show that other Western concepts seem to work well e.g. theory of generations, age-class system. Also, new phenomena appear, sometimes with a great force. Some may have already been detected in the West (e.g. Aids/HIV, NEETs…), whereas others are may not have Western equivalents (e.g. Hukou system, corruption, cybercrime, censorship, forced marriages, caste system, one-child policy…).

Against this background, this paper will examine how agency is seen and understood in youth studies in the BRICS countries, temporal and spatial dimensions will be provided as appropriate. Sociology's treatment of agency after the emergence of ICTs will provide a central focus of analysis. Social actors are to be found in all of the BRICS.